Volume. XXXIV, No. 27
Sunday, 05 January 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: We are a Community

In order to talk about what I want to share with you today, I need to begin with the meaning of “community.”  Noah Webster says it means, “A society of people, having common rights and privileges, or common interests, civil, political or ecclesiastical; or living under the same laws and regulations. This word may signify a commonwealth or state, a body politic, or a particular society or order of men within a state, as a community of monks; and it is often used for the public or people in general, without very definite limits.”  Community also could mean “having a particular characteristic in common.”  The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as “the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interestssocial group, or nationality.”  Thus, when I talk about community, I am referring to you, believers of Jesus Christ, who are providentially led to Hope BPC to serve and worship the Lord and to fellowship with one another.

When I was little, the community I lived in was very different from any community or society in today’s world.  Let me talk about what it was like then.  People in the community knew each other very well.  They knew each other by names, and they were not only neighbours but also friends.  Their children played outside till very late even in the dark, and parents did not have to worry about them because every eye was watchful, and if there was any stranger around, he was immediately noticed.  If a child was taken by a stranger, the whole neighbourhood intervened and quizzed the person who took the hands of that child.  They knew children by their families.  When they celebrated any special day, the whole neighbourhood came together to celebrate.  You may be wondering how then such a large number of people were fed on such celebrations (like baby’s first birthday, or somebody’s sixtieth birthday, someone’s wedding . . . .).  Well, basically all the aunties got together and cooked together.  There were lots of laughter while they were working together.  Their families were invited, too.  Uncles joined them later, and their families ate together, and whoever was available helped with washing!  Sometimes, we said that everyone knew how many spoons his neighbour had.  It was fun to go around the neighbourhood.  It was not a perfect community.  There were quarrels and sometimes fights, too.  However, while they were fighting, if anyone from other town or village came and offended one of the community people, all ganged up and were ready to defend the offended person for the sake of the honours of their community!  Oh, yes, there were some inconveniences, too.  It was true that sometimes all wanted a bit more of privacy, but meddling was a part of noisy life.  Everyone seemed to have a few words for every event.  If a child misbehaved somewhere and an adult in the community found it out, then he did not mind even scolding the child and speaking to his parents about the matter so that they might fix the problem of their child.  Usually, parents thanked the person for the care of their child.  If there were funerals, the whole community came together to help the grieving family.  People came and spent time with the family.  They were more than willing to help the family in any possible way from spending time with them to bringing dishes for their meals. 

However, today, the concept of community seems to be all gone.  Most of us hold to a code of privacy that leads us to not know our neighbours.  Most of us live with technology that aims to reduce the friction in any encounter, and we get used to that mode of living.  Though by now I am getting used to it, for a while I found it very uncomfortable to communicate with people through text messages.  I felt it to be very impersonal.  Some years ago, someone emailed me that he was not going to come to church any longer because of a few reasons including jobs and distance.  I thought, “why email?”  Could he talk to me face to face when he came to church?  Or couldn’t he call me and speak to me directly?  I could have sent him with my blessings, and we could have spent time to pray together.  After all, aren’t we brothers in Christ and belong to the same community?  If we just pick up the phone, we can talk, but most people today prefer texting to calling.  Of course, there are times when texts are more preferable, but probably not all the time.  Customer service becomes very impersonal.  If we call any company or organization for questions or reports, we have to listen to recorded voices or machine generated voices before pressing any number for further information.  We have to either wait for a long time or go through a complex process before being able to speak to human beings. 

Things are not any better in church settings.  Christians get used to making fake faces as if they are free from issues of life.  It is an outcome of loose connections within their communities.  Why should anyone open himself/herself to someone who has not shown any care but perfunctory?  When there is a loss of care, a community becomes fragile and so do the people in it.  The people are still there, but the fabrics of their relationships do not lie in mutual trust and care.  Only superficial talk and sharing will dominate their relationships.  It means that when anyone in this community has a trouble or issues of life, he does have only a few people to turn to.  This sort of community cannot fulfil what Galatians 6:2 says: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”  In such cases, members of that community may desire to have a sense of belonging, but they neither see nor feel any sense of their belonging to the community they are in.  Here we find a necessity to change our mindset concerning the building up of a community.  When we experience church growth, we begin to see the needs of running the church more and more as an organization.  Thus, main focus is on management, and pastors and the Session become managers of church businesses. In this way, church businesses become predictable and repeatable.  However, what we miss from here is that people, spiritual stones of the habitation of God, cannot be dealt with as if they are simply matters of businesses. 

For example, a problem of loneliness is a persistent issue to many people today.  Church community is not an exception.  As the society in general sees the rising issues of depression and mental health, so the church experiences the same trend.  David Brooks gives his insight on this in The Second Mountain: “People used to say that depression and other mental health challenges were primarily about chemical imbalances in the brain.  But as Johann Hari argues in his book Lost Connections, these mental health issues are at least as much about problems in life—protracted protracted loneliness, loss of meaningful work, feeling pressured and stressed in the absence of community—as they are about one’s neurochemistry. ‘Protracted loneliness causes you to shut down socially, and to be more suspicious of any social contact,’ Hari writes.”  All I want to do is to ask all of you if you are connected to the community of Hope Church.  Or, do you refuse to be connected, or is your connection only fragmental?  We may not be connected to everyone in the same depth and intensity.  However, what we need to know is that we should have a community mindset.  When we fail to have it, as someone said, we become hypervigilant.  When we fall into this trap, we start to be more likely to take offense where none was intended.  When it happens, we start to be afraid to be a part of a community, which we need most.   

Building a community is to build a relationship, which is a complex process.  When we commit ourselves to build a community and to be a part of a community, we begin to move from “I” to “we.”  Isn’t it true that even the Lord’s prayer says, “OUR [not just MY] Father which art in heaven”?  Please do not permit you to become remote and alienated from others.  It is my wish and prayer that we will be able to build a community in Hope Church.



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Thank you to all who came to Working Bee yesterday & help clean our church premises. It was a wonderful serving & fellowship time for our church community.
  • Church theme for 2020 is “Look Unto Jesus” from Hebrews 12:2a.
  • Women of Hope Family Picnic on Sat, 18 Jan, Glenunga Hub @ 9:30 am. Please bring a plate to share. (Picnic will be cancelled if the weather for the day is forecast to be 35 degrees or above).
  • Easter Family Bible Camp – those willing to serve in the committee please inform Dn Kevin Low or Bro Edy Lok.
  • Daily Manna (Adult & Junior) for Jan-Mar available in the foyer. Donation $1/copy.
  • Wednesday Bible Study & Prayer Meeting, all fellowship group activities will resume in February. For more details, please contact the fellowship group leaders.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Volunteers. Next week: AFG.


Looking Ahead

  • Women of Hope Family Picnic, Sat, 18 Jan.
  • Easter Family Bible Camp, Fri - Mon, 10 – 13 Apr.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Church visitors in the past week.
  • Watchnight Service – those who shared testimonies & all attendees.
  • Working Bees
  • Firefighters, health care workers and volunteers in the bushfires across the country; their safety & wellbeing.
  • All who donated items & funds for the bushfire relief effort.
  • Journey mercies: those who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others afflicted by sickness.
  • Bushfire crises across the country - Comfort for families of victims & those affected; firefighters, government officials & others fighting & managing the crises.
  • Missions – Rev Ken & Mrs Ira Olson (Cameroon); Rev & Mrs Ricker (Guatemala); Air conditioners for worship area of Faith Krang Angkrang Church (PhnomPenh).
  • Batam & Phnom Penh Missions Teams in Jan/Feb – preparation, planning & fund.
  • Journey mercies:  those who are travelling.




© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041